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Faustus 2005 - Etcetera Theatre, London

'Etcetera Theatre bills itself as "the capital's smallest theatre" and this was a cut-down, stripped down, but not quite minimalist production, reducing the size and scale of the drama to suit the tiny stage and cast of five male actors. [...]

In many ways this was a traditional realist production, stripped of the multiple place of clownish sub-plots and anything as counter-realist as the display of the seven sins personified [...]. A desk and chair sat in front of a back stage wall painted to resemble a large fireplace, complete with genuine candelabra, a mantelpiece shelf of real books, and a significantly central crucifix which became the most used prop in the production - constantly gazed at, handled, and moved around, as Faustus struggled with his relationship with the divine and demonic, and finally replaced by Faustus himself, who faced death and damnation in the crucifix's place at the centre of the upstage wall, with his arms raised in imitation of Christ's passion. the costumes were similarly realistic, seemingly based on the contents of a vaguely eighteen-century styled theatrical dressing-up box.

The impact of the production, however, was based just as firmly on what remained unseen as what was physically present [:] the beastly form in which Mephistopheles appears [...] invisible demon that materialised somewhere behind the audience. The devil's bride, who appeared onstage, was apparently attractive in a red slinky dress and black veil, but only the eager Faustus saw the horrors lurked beneath, a she lifted the veil [...] There was no physical representation of Alexander and his attractive paramour, or the unsurpassed beauty of Helen, but again the audience's mind was left to create its own idealised if insubstantial image in response to some fine acting on the part of the onstage actors, who saw these illusions beyond the forth wall between the stage and audience.'

Thomas Larque, RORD 45 (2006), 139-40

Review:

Imogen Tilden, 'Faustus' The Guardian, 20 June 2005